When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul
This hymn was sung in the opening of our memorial service on Saturday. Even though, I am not one to always find joy in the sounds of an old hymn, this one rang so true for me as I sat in the back room of an old farm house preparing to speak a final good-bye to my children.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well, with my soul…
And it was, so perfectly well that afternoon. I wrote that morning, “I can’t even put into words the feelings - like brightness, joy, just ahhhh…such a weight lifted, such a difference from how I woke up Thursday morning.”
New Heart of Texas Ministries, who leads, the Rachel’s Vineyards in my area uses Ezekiel 36:26 as their verse, it reads, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
And that is just what the Lord did last weekend. Even though I have been through so much healing this past year, I still lived in a world of captivity because of my choice to the end lives of my two children. It was always the one thing, I could never fully forgive myself for. Friday afternoon, I threw that self-hate, un-forgiveness and the mindset that I am unworthy in a pond. Those thoughts now sit in the muck and mire where they belong, where they will stay forevermore.
Now don’t fooled, my three days were not full of joy and brightness. I will be completely honest and say I fought this opportunity hard. Thursday afternoon, I said good-bye to my littles and stood in the entry way of my house in tears because I just did not want face this, at all. I am so thankful for all of God’s beautiful creations that lined the highway during my hour long drive to the retreat location and the music of David Crowder, without those I would have surely turned around before I got to highway 6. I pushed through always keeping the idea of leaving in the night in my head if I needed to make a mad dash back to the safeness of my home.
Those thoughts were slowly crushed as I turned from one back country to another and realized i would never be able to make it out safely in the night (I have night blindness like no body’s business). And then I turned right onto a circle driveway and smiling faces ran out to greet me.
This is where I want to stop for just a moment and tell you last week my plans were to share every detail that I could remember, what exercises we did, what my feelings were during the entire trip, but I don’t think I will. Not that I am holding it back, not able to deal with it or feel it is too personal to share (ha! nothing seems too personal for me lately), but I want you to experience a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat yourself. Yes, I just changed who I am talking to in this post. If you are not post abortive, then it’s okay to keep reading, I will be sharing more of my feelings, my healing, but if you cary the scars as I have then know that I am talking directly to you.
First and foremost know, please know, that Rachel’s Vineyard is a safe place. Each one of those volunteers love and care about you before they even see your face. They have been praying over your name, your bed, the materials for the weekend for days before you arrive. They want you to relax and let them care for you. This includes them parking your car and taking your bags which I have to admit had me in a bit of a tizzy. I stepped out of my car, well my mother in-laws car that she let me borrow, and was shocked to hear they were parking it and taking my keys. I just knew this was a trap, that they were cutting off my ability to leave. I sent a quick text to the girl friends and got a “I am headed your way to save you” response. Thankfully, I told her to stay put, but be on call. Oh, the seeds the devil plants in your mind about other people. The volunteers had no ill intentions and my keys were sitting on a table downstairs the entire time, I didn’t just drive up to a cult, I was being cared for, shown love.
That is another hurdle you will have to get over, you will have to step aside and let these women care for you. The women who volunteered to make us three meals a day quickly said, “do not set foot into the kitchen. Do not try to wash a dish or remove plates from the table once you are done.” They were there to be of service to us and let me tell you the food was amazing. AMAZING…mind you I will be exercising for the next week to make up for it, but I am strong believer in the need for comfort food.
Let me put another hesitation, or fear, at rest for you. At each retreat there are six to twelve participants and about six volunteers (eight if you count the women in the kitchen). We had six participants in my retreat and of the six of us, only three were post abortive. Now, that realization had me a bit sideways and very apprehensive the first night, but man the Lord showed me what a blessing those women were. You may ask, “Why would they be there if they had not had an abortion themselves?” Well, one of the three was a mother, whose, now adult, daughter had an abortion as a minor. This choice holds just as much shame for her as for her daughter, I fully understand that and I feel that with my own mother. The other two were volunteers from New Heart. It is required that if you are going to be any part of the New Heart of Texas Ministries (even an accountant) that you go through Rachel’s Vineyard. And I am telling your right now, they participated from the first activity till the last. They let go of lies the devil had tricked them into believing and they shed tears for things in their lives as well as in ours. On Saturday morning I shared that I was a bit sideways about having non-post abortive women in with us on our journey, but then turned to the woman who sat next to me and said, “but I was so wrong, I have been so blessed by you.” Know, again, that there is nothing but love coming from these volunteers.
One thing that I was told last September was that the women that are put together in our groups are lead by the Holy Spirit to be there and that was so true. I was given the opportunity to be a part of a group in November, but decided not to go. I am glad I didn’t, because the women I walked this journey with were who I needed, who I was meant to be with. One of my fears was sharing my story, which we all did. I was afraid that I would be placed with a group of women who were talked into an abortion during their teenage years and that they would never understand how I could be a repeat offender. The Lord calmed my heart when after telling my story I heard stories that so closely resembled mine. Thank you Lord for that. All of us, participants and volunteers, found so many similarities in our stories that by the time we left on Saturday it felt we were saying goodbye to family members and not strangers. I believe I can speak for all of them when I say, our lives were forever changed by each other.
Now, I was the first to share my abortion story on Friday morning, but not by my own volunteering. I fought the entire process pretty strongly Thursday evening into Friday morning. My mind was filled with conceit and I thought I was pretty much healed, I just needed a certificate so that I could help other women. I was bitter and not happy, but then during an exercise we had to answer, “Do you believe Jesus can heal your wounds?” I thought “do I?” and quickly answered “well of course.” Then I heard a voice in head, he said, “then let me.” In that moment I realized I had been my own worst enemy, that my “I can fix this myself” attitude was standing in the way of Jesus doing the work he needed to do on me. When I released that, tears flew and the exercises that followed built onto each other until there was just this overwhelming sense of peace - a peace I have not felt, ever. I guess you could say it’s the peace that surpasses all understanding.
In that moment things changed. The idea of naming my children, of being handed bereavement dolls and of writing a letters to my children no longer held fear. That fear turned into an odd excitement. I wrote Saturday morning that it was “still amazing to me that I don’t sit in dread for this day like I did for so long - I am ready, I’m ready to honor my sons and leave them safely in God’s hands.”
I don’t know if the strength of my words will come across through your computer scream, but I wish, my prayer is that you are able to experience this peace. I pray that you, too, will find the healing you need through a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. I strongly believe that this retreat is a must to aid the process of ridding ourselves from the shame, from the heartache we’ve carried with us. This has to have been one of the best things I have done in my life.
I am not fully healed, not sure if you ever can be, but I can say on Saturday afternoon I laid two small dolls in a cradle symbolizing that my children now live eternally with Jesus. When I faced my fear of making them mortal and allowing myself to picture who they were, it was surprisingly easier to give them to the Lord. In that moment I let them go, though they will always be a part of my heart, they are now a peaceful part of my story.
So, my friend, I want you to know that you are not alone in this, there is help and there is a ton of love waiting for you. I would be happy to answer any questions you have and would love to put you in contact with Mary Lee, the woman to whom I will be forever grateful. You can find out more about her and her ministry at www.newheartoftexas.org.
If you are not post abortive I still have a request for you, please share my story with others. You are welcome to share this post or the website for New Heart. Just please if you are ever sitting across from someone who wears the scars of abortion let them know there is a safe place of healing available to them. I so wish I knew about this years ago.
I look forward to the day when more and more women like myself are healed enough to share their stories with the world. I believe that we are the front line in helping others not believe the lie that everything will be fine once they leave the clinic.
I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to go through this and I am able to sit hear today and say, It is well, it well with my soul.